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Nancy  Madsen
By Nancy Madsen December 2, 2013

McDonnell changes his approach

While running for governor, Bob McDonnell promised to make it easier for business owners to find all the information they needed to start or expand a company in Virginia.

McDonnell noted in a June 2009 policy paper that Virginia had four different publications with pieces of information: a manual from the State Corporation Commission on registering a new company and three guides from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership on establishing businesses, business incentives and taxes.

"As governor, Bob McDonnell will combine all (four) resources into one updated manual," his campaign promised.

McDonnell, in the policy paper, said he would add the consolidated guide "as the true first step" to the state's "Business One Stop" website. The website, launched under former Gov. Tim Kaine, offers step-by-step instructions and linked resources to businesses interested in starting, expanding or moving to Virginia.

When we last looked at the pledge in late 2011, there was no progress on the consolidated manual. The McDonnell administration said its immediate goal was making the Business One Stop website faster and more responsive to entrepreneurs. Once done, the administration said it would focus on the unified guide and that plans remained intact for its publication before the end of McDonnell's term. Based on those assurances, we rated the governor's promise "In the Works" and said we would revisit it.

The update, with six weeks remaining to McDonnell's administration, is that the governor has abandoned the idea of consolidating the manuals.

Taylor Keeney, a spokeswoman for the governor, emailed us that McDonnell's improvements to the website made unifying the guides unnecessary. She said entrepreneurs will soon be able to use the website to submit all forms necessary to start a business in Virginia.

The electronic approach, Keeney wrote, is the "most business friendly" way for the state to offer guidance to prospective companies.

So McDonnell did not fulfill his vow to consolidate the business guides. But by improving the fledgling Business One Stop website, the governor moved towards his overarching goal of making it easier to start a business in Virginia. So his campaign promise winds up with a rating of Compromise.

Our Sources

McDonnell for Governor, "McDonnell: 'Make Virginia the best state in America in which to open a small business," June 2009.

PolitiFact Virginia, "A work in progress, we're told," Nov. 28, 2011.

Business One Stop, accessed Nov. 25, 2013.

Business One Stop from Oct. 6, 2010, captured through the internet Wayback Machine, Nov. 25, 2013.

Emails from Taylor Thornley, Nov. 25 and 26, 2013.

Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Documents Library, accessed Nov. 26, 2013.

Virginia Department of Taxation, "Registering a Business in Virginia," accessed Nov. 26, 2013.

State Corporation Commission, "Entity Formation," accessed Nov. 26, 2013.


By Sean Gorman November 28, 2011

A work in progress, we're told

While running for governor, Bob McDonnell vowed to make it easier for business owners to track down all the information on starting or expanding an enterprise in Virginia.

McDonnell's gubernatorial campaign said in a June 2009 news release that the state government had four separate publications providing that type of information.

That included the "Business Registration Guide,” created by the State Corporation Commission and two other agencies to lay out a step-by-step process for establishing a business, and three publications put out by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership --  "The Virginia guide to establishing a business,” which outlines various taxes and regulations affecting business; the "Guide to Business Incentives;” and the "Guide to Local Taxes on Business.”

"As governor, Bob McDonnell will combine all (four) resources into one updated manual,” his campaign promised.  

McDonnell made small businesses a focal point in his plans to spur job creation in the state.

The campaign said the centralized manual, to be called "How to Start or Expand a Business,” would be added to the state"s "Business One Stop” website. That site was launched under former Governor Tim Kaine and updated under McDonnell.

"It has never been easier for someone to get all pertinent information needed to start or expand a business in Virginia, all in one place,” Tucker Martin, McDonnell's director of communications, said last week about the updated website.

The site includes information on how to get state financial assistance in expanding a business, how to obtain various licenses and how to register a business name.

But the single, centralized "How to Start and Expand a Business” manual is still a work in progress, Martin said.

"The first step towards making state government work better and faster for business owners was getting the new ‘Business One Stop" website up and running. That has occurred,” Martin said in an e-mail. "Now the focus has turned to other objectives, including merging all four listed publications into one.”

Martin said state commerce and trade officials are working on the centralized business manual and plans remain intact for its publication before McDonnell leaves office in January 2014.

For now, we rate this a promise that's In the Works.

Our Sources

McDonnell for Governor, "McDonnell: ‘Make Virginia the best state in America in which to open a small business,” June 2009.

E-mails from Tucker Martin, spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, November 22, 2011 and Nov, 25, 2011.

Interview with Tucker Martin, November 23, 2011.

Interview with George Peyton, vice president of government relations at the Retail Merchants Association, November 22, 2011.

E-mail from George Peyton, November 23, 2011.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, "Governor McDonnell announces launch of enhanced business website,”   February 1, 2011.

"Business One Stop” website, accessed November 23, 2011.

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